Thanks to amazing learning resources like W3Schools and NetTuts, picking up the basics of web development is made extremely easy in our modern age. But what if you’re past this point? Maybe you’ve added more advanced languages to your repertoire and you want to kick it up a notch. How can you shift your workflow into overdrive? What does it take to develop like a professional?
Use the Right Editor
Finding an editor that fits like a glove is crucial to agile development. Sublime Text is, by far, my editor of choice. Touting hundreds of plugins and extensions, this editor is extremely malleable, allowing for customization of nearly everything. As a bonus, Sublime is cross-platform, and works just as well on OSX as it does Windows.
There are a handful of alternatives, Coda, Espresso, Brackets.io, TextMate, but regardless of which editor you choose, master it. Learn keyboard commands, code snippets and shortcuts decrease your development time and increase your productivity.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
Open source, mass-tested frameworks and boilerplates are always the best place to start. They’re free to use, and can save you hundreds of hours, cutting out the trivial and time consuming development that’s typical at the start of a web project.
HTML5 Boilerplate acts as the skeleton for your website’s front end. The source is riddled with nuggets of gold that veteran dev professionals have injected to turbo charge your websites. When used in compliment with CSS3Please snippets and font sizing from PXtoEM, focus can remain on the meat, not the bones.
Complimentary to front end, there exists a handful of back-end frameworks that act as a common code bases to begin from. Laravel, CodeIgniter and Ruby on Rails are excellent springboards for your websites and web apps server-side scripting. Developing in these frameworks cuts down time spent building mundane chunks of code, such as routing, pagination, database interfacing, asset management and so on…
Long gone are the days of frantically uploading PHP files via FTP just to test and see the 12 errors filling up your view. It is arguable that this was always the wrong approach, but before a couple of years ago, setting up one’s own server, which ran the choice server side language and database, terrified any developer unfamiliar with the command line.
Queue MAMP for PHP and Ruby Stack for Ruby. These apps are a one-click install that allow you to develop in server-side languages locally on your machine. It’s incredibly important to develop locally because it shaves off precious seconds that can add up to hours at the end of a project.
If you’re not checking your code in, you’re risking losing hours of your life to frivolous mistakes that every developer is bound to make. For many small projects, Git and can seem like overkill. However, SVN is much simpler, and is relatively easy to setup on most service providers. MediaTemple has an article on how to set up SVN on their Grid Servers. You’ll also need an SVN client like Cornerstone to commit and checkout repositories. It’s highly recommended if more than one developer is working on a project at the same time.
This is a very brief list of ways you can speed up your workflow. There are hundreds of ways to speed up your process further. So if there’s a great app, tool or service you feel we’ve left out, leave a comment about what resources you might recommend and why.